Conservation : WaterSense Partners Celebrate Water Saving Efforts

Oct. 27, 2016

THE US ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY’S (EPA’s) WaterSense program is celebrating 10 years of saving water for future generations through water-efficient products, homes, and programs. Thanks to the efforts of more than 1,700 program partners, WaterSense labeled products have helped save more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water and $32.6 billion in water and energy bills since the program began in 2006.

“Our partners are not only promoting water conservation today, they are instilling an ethic of saving water for future generations,” says Veronica Blette, chief of the WaterSense branch. “Preserving this valuable resource is critical to fighting the current drought conditions and the effects of climate change for many years to come.”

On October 6, EPA honored some of the most active contributors to this effort—its 2016 WaterSense Partners of the Year—during the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, NV. WaterSense also recognized four Sustained Excellence winners for their continued high level of commitment to the program, and nine excellence award winners in specific categories. The following are just a few of the winners’ contributions.

Runners wash off mud at a Delta’s Warrior Dash race in Indiana, where the company provided outdoor showering stations featuring WaterSense labeled showerheads.

Delta Faucet Company
As part of its HappiMess campaign, two-time WaterSense Sustained Excellence winner Delta Faucet Company provided outdoor showering stations, featuring WaterSense labeled showerheads, at Warrior Dash races across the country, where more than 34,000 runners used them to wash off mud. Delta also donated WaterSense labeled products to more than 30 homes as part of its St. Jude Dream Home sponsorship, and more than 150,000 people toured those homes.

To educate trade professionals about water efficiency, Delta updated a Continuing Education Unit course about WaterSense and its product specification requirements. More than 1,350 trade professionals took these courses. Delta also began a study to help a hospital group with nine facilities understand its water usage and how to implement water-saving tactics.

Kohler Co.
Kohler Co. earned its fourth consecutive Sustained Excellence Award, in part, due to the “Change the Course” outreach campaign it co-sponsored with Bonneville Environment Foundation, Participant Media, and National Geographic, to encourage consumers to pledge to reduce water use. Kohler also participated in “Connect the Drops” to help California policymakers ensure water efficiency targets are met in response to ongoing drought. To reach 2,000 San Francisco residents in need, Kohler created mobile showering stations featuring WaterSense labeled showerheads, toilets, and faucets. And more than 100,000 concert-goers used similar showering stations at Bonnaroo, a four-day music festival in Tennessee.

In 2015, Kohler’s “Bold Experience Tour,” a mobile traveling display visited 101 locations in 21 states. The semi-trailer, outfitted with working models of WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and showerheads, exposed consumers and more than 14,500 plumbing professionals to the benefits of WaterSense labeled products. Kohler also partnered with Lowe’s Home Improvement, a WaterSense retail partner, on a national “Kohler Big Event” marketing campaign that featured WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and showerheads.

“There’s always concern that when you reduce the amount of water it’s going to affect performance,” says Rob Zimmerman, Kohler’s director of marketing, projects, specifications, and sustainability. “With WaterSense, you can save water without sacrificing performance, and we helped show consumers that.”

The Home Depot
All toilets and faucets sold in-store at The Home Depot, a two-time WaterSense Sustained Excellence winner, are WaterSense labeled. The company also worked last year to ensure that all the showerheads it sells in its stores were WaterSense labeled by September 2016. To drive the sales of WaterSense labeled products, the company offered rebates and more than $43.8 million in product markdowns in 2015. In drought-ridden California, The Home Depot held a statewide campaign to provide $100 incentives for WaterSense labeled toilets and a separate effort in 80 stores to offer instant rebates on WaterSense labeled showerheads, the latter of which resulted in incentives on more than 50,000 ­showerheads sold.

In partnership with the Georgia Aquarium, The Home Depot installed an interactive, digital matching game that features the WaterSense promotional label. If participants choose a pair of matching fish species, they receive a water-saving tip. The Home Depot also continued hosting more than 50,000 Web-based video courses to train sales associates on WaterSense and WaterSense labeled products.

“As the largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot assumes the responsibility of making water ­conservation available to our customers,” says Ron Jarvis, vice president of environmental sustainability. “The WaterSense label signifies water savings opportunities for customers in their homes and places of work, giving them confidence that they are conserving this precious resource.”

KB Home
Two-time Sustained Excellence winner KB Home constructed 233 WaterSense labeled homes in 2015, an increase of 142% compared to its labeled homes constructed in 2014. The company introduced four KB Home communities in California in which all homes will be built to meet the WaterSense specification. The company also included WaterSense labeled products in the more than 8,000 homes it delivered in 2015. KB Home has trained all of its employees on how to explain and promote the benefits of WaterSense labeled products and has helped foster business for irrigation professionals certified by WaterSense labeled programs, who help promote water savings outside of the home.

KB Home collaborated with several organizations to develop the nation’s first Water Efficiency Rating Index to score homes based on their water use. The company also launched the Sea Cliff community in San Diego, CA, which features WaterSense labeled homes.

“We take great pride in earning recognition from EPA WaterSense for our water-efficient homes that help KB homeowners across the country live more sustainably and save money in the process,” says Dan Bridleman, senior vice president of sustainability, technology, and strategic sourcing. “The WaterSense program is KB Home’s North Star for water efficiency.”

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Public Utilities Department

A two-time Promotional Partner of the Year Award winner, the Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department expanded its Certified Blue restaurant water conservation program to include 33 local businesses in 2015, and the utility provided many participating restaurants with pre-rinse spray valves and aerators. Children visiting Certified Blue restaurants received “We’re for Water” activity sheets while waiting for meals. Through the Little Lily Pad Hop school outreach project, Athens-Clarke distributed Froggie Care Packages containing “Fix a Leak” bookmarks and other WaterSense materials to students in 21 elementary school classrooms, reaching more than 1,000 families.

Athens-Clarke County educated children about water efficiency at various events in 2015 where the utility  prominently displayed the WaterSense promotional label.

The sixth annual Athens Water Festival experienced a 33% increase in attendance from 2014, and 18 organizations provided tips on water education to local families. During the festival, families won a T-shirt by finding the WaterSense logo hidden in different locations. The hunt increased brand awareness of the logo by 72%. “We’re trying to bring awareness to the logo,” says Marilyn Hall, water conservation coordinator. “For the festival, our efforts were effective.”

The utility’s water conservation coordinator even planned a water-efficient wedding and wrote a blog post about the experience, titled “12 Ways I Saved Money and Water at My Wedding.” The article, featured in Bride 2 Be magazine, explained how to work WaterSense and water efficiency into a wedding.

Citrus County (Florida) Utilities
In 2015, Citrus County Utilities sponsored a “We’re for Water Classroom Challenge,” which taught 400 third through fifth grade students how to find and fix leaks and save water at home. Teachers from eight county schools received lesson plans that featured WaterSense materials and local water topics. Students tested 600 toilets, identified 130 leaks for a potential water savings of 21,000 gallons per day, and gained deeper insight on how to conserve water.

Citrus County celebrated “Fix a Leak Week” with three different activities: Schedule a Specialist, Facilities Checkup, and a Water Conservation Expo. Sixty-nine customers participated in Schedule a Specialist; a local bank received a facility checkup that saved over 400,000 gallons of water in nine months; and 150 residents attended the Water Conservation Expo workshops, where the utility distributed 54 WaterSense labeled showerheads and 104 faucet aerators. The utility also helped provide 46 free irrigation evaluations to customers.

“WaterSense helps us break that barrier of lack of knowledge,” says Debra Burden, Citrus County Utilities water conservation manager. “It’s a respected entity, and when people see EPA WaterSense, they know they can trust it.”

City of Charlottesville (Virginia)
Earning its second WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year Award, the City of Charlottesville helped launch the “Love Your Landscape” contest during “Sprinkler Spruce-Up” 2015. To help make their lawns more water efficient, participants won prize packages, including soaker hoses, adapters, shut-off valves, rain gauges, soil moisture meters, and T-shirts, in a raffle.

To promote WaterSense labeled toilets, the city provided off-campus University of Virginia students with more than 170 leak-detection dye tablets and brochures on its rebate program. The city also held a “Fix a Leak Week” Family 5-kilometer Race, where 80 participants raced a “running toilet” to the finish line. As a result of these efforts, consumers replaced 222 toilets with WaterSense labeled models in 2015.

During the summer, a Blue Team of middle school and high school students visited homeowners to provide tips and conservation kits. Overall, the city handed out more than 600 water conservation kits and an additional 500 WaterSense labeled faucet aerators to Charlottesville residents. “These kids aren’t just learning about water conservation, but they’re also growing more confident and learning to talk to and approach adults they don’t know,” says Jill Greiner Charlottesville water program conservation coordinator. “It’s getting them more engaged in their community.”

Charlottesville’s Water Program Conservation Coordinator Jill Greiner with Flo, the WaterSense “spokesgallon,” who is a frequent visitor to city events.

Cobb County (Georgia) Water System
Five-time WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year Cobb County Water System actively participated in all WaterSense campaigns. “Fix a Leak Week” showcased the utility’s biggest event, the third annual Water Drop Dash 5k and Water Festival. During WaterSense’s Sprinkler Spruce-Up campaign, Cobb County’s “Ask an Expert” traveling display visited garden clubs, environmental fairs, and community events to educate customers about efficient watering practices. In June 2015, Cobb County introduced its new mascot, Tappy the Turtle, who wears a “We’re for Water” button and encourages residents to follow him and see WaterSense messaging on his social media pages.

For “Shower Better Month,” Cobb County partnered with The Home Depot to promote the WaterSense and ENERGY STAR sales tax holiday the first weekend in October and rebate 42 toilets, which led to a 100% rise in rebates for WaterSense labeled products compared to the county’s average weekend rebated purchases. The utility also supported the H2Otel Challenge by partnering with fellow WaterSense partners Green Plumbers USA and Niagara Conservation to install WaterSense labeled toilets in interested hotels.

“WaterSense has just become part of the DNA of Cobb County,” says Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water Systems’ senior project manager for water resources.

More than 500 runners participated in the Metro Water District’s annual Water Drop Dash 5k and Water Festival for Fix a Leak Week 2015.

Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
In 2015, the Metropolitan North ­Georgia Water District celebrated having more than 100,000 toilets in its region replaced in recent years with more efficient WaterSense labeled ­models by launching the Great ­Plumbing Fixture Giveaway. The district nominated nonprofit organizations, and residents voted via social media to select a winner to receive $1,000 worth of WaterSense labeled fixtures. Runners-up received free water audits from a local plumber. The Metro Water District also used “WaterSense at Work’s” best management practices to target the highest commercial water users in the area with water audits.

In conjunction with “Fix a Leak Week” 2015, the Metro Water District sponsored its annual Water Drop Dash 5k and Water Festival with more than 500 runners. The district used “Fix a Leak Week” graphics on its banners and distributed WaterSense kids’ activity worksheets and bookmarks at the race. The district also held its second annual calendar contest, where residents were asked to submit photos of regional water resources, with special recognition for a photo highlighting water conservation in action that could be featured in a calendar promoting WaterSense and saving water.

Energy Inspectors Corporation
In 2015, Energy Inspectors ­Corporation, a four-time WaterSense Licensed Certification Provider Partner of the Year, certified 233 homes for KB Home to meet the WaterSense labeled homes specification—more than double the number of homes the organization certified in 2014. By the end of 2015, the company trained a dozen inspectors to perform WaterSense specification inspections.

Through its partnership with KB Home, Energy Inspectors Corporation emphasized the benefits of implementing water-saving measures as homes are built. In reaction to severe drought, the company successfully drew attention to the merits of the WaterSense program to its builder clients in California, resulting in an increased number of homes certified. Energy Inspectors Corporation incorporated WaterSense into its messaging for builders and installing trades across the southwest to further the reach of the program.

Sonoma-Marin Saving Water ­Partnership (Santa Rosa, CA)

Three-time WaterSense Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year, Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) continues to expand its WaterSense labeled Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) certification program. In 2015, SMSWP worked with six neworganizations in Idaho, California, and New Mexico that might not otherwise have had the resources to develop a certification curriculum to adopt the QWEL program. SMSWP also directly helped more than 65 irrigation professionals earn certification through its WaterSense labeled program.

“One of the big factors is spreading the word,” says Gregory Plumb water agency programs specialist. “We’re very committed to the QWEL program, and we’ve done our best to help other organizations adopt the program. Many of these other agencies might not have been in the position to develop these materials.”

The partnership regularly communicates with QWEL-certified professionals in the Bay Area of California to make them aware of WaterSense-related events and continuing education opportunities. At the 2015 Sonoma County Fair, SMSWP displayed information on how to make lawns more water-efficient and introduced residents to QWEL-certified irrigation professionals. SMSWP also engaged in state initiatives to promote WaterSense training and certification as California continues to address water conservation during its drought.

For more information about the WaterSense Partner of the Year awards, or to learn how to become a WaterSense partner, please visit

Credit: iStockphoto/nikkytok

2016 WaterSense Excellence Award Winners

Nine WaterSense partners received Excellence Awards to recognize their support for a specific aspect of the program in 2015. Following is just a sample of the work that contributed to their awards:

Excellence in Strategic Collaboration:

  • Cascade Water Alliance in Washington partnered with the Seattle nonprofit Built Green to encourage construction of WaterSense labeled homes with a $1,000 rebate for homes built to both of their criteria. The Alliance also worked with King County Housing authority to conduct affordable housing audits and provide WaterSense labeled products for retrofits.
  • High Sierra Showerheads worked with the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to identify a WaterSense labeled tamper-proof showerhead that would be suitable for prisons and correctional facilities; the department plans to retrofit more than 6,000 showerheads in facilities to save an estimated 385 million gallons annually.

Excellence in Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products:

  • During Fix a Leak Week, the City of Durham (North Carolina) Water Management agency showcased WaterSense labeled products via television and online advertisements, Facebook, and public events, reaching over 3,600 people, and sold 277 water efficiency kits that included WaterSense labeled showerheads, faucet aerators, and other efficient products.
  • The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership promoted WaterSense labeled products during “Drought Drive-Up” events in Santa Rosa, CA—where 1,200 participants received custom drought tool kits with labeled showerheads—and through its traveling Water Smart Home exhibit.

Excellence in Education and Outreach:

  • The City of Carmel Utilities reached tens of thousands of residents with an entertaining toilet leak video on YouTube during an irrigation system maintenance workshop at The Home Depot for Sprinkler Spruce-Up and through a “water wheel” game that educated Public Safety Day participants about WaterSense labeled products.
  • The City of Fort Worth, TX, and a local running club hosted a 5k “Chasing Leaks, Fixing Flappers” running race, partnered with The Home Depot on regional plant sales to promote water-efficient landscapes, and hosted a Water Efficiency @ Work Symposium for commercial and industrial facilities.
  • The Regional Water Authority in Sacramento, CA, partnered with the Sacramento Bee Media on a “Be Water Smart Decorating” contest for pre-school through fifth grade students to decorate pictures of RWA’s detective-inspired mascot, Les Leaky, as he hunts down leaks and other water-wasting mysteries.
  • The Toro Company conducted 46 training events on weather-based irrigation controllers, displayed at 22 trade expos to promote its WaterSense labeled controllers, and sponsored a weekly radio program, The Water Zone, to educate the public on WaterSense labeled products and best practices for outdoor water efficiency.

Excellence in Innovation and Research:

  • American Standard engineered and manufactured the first ready-for-market residential faucets created with three-dimensional printing in metal, and all three models meet WaterSense performance and efficiency criteria.
About the Author

Beth Livingston

Beth Livingston is a brand manager for WaterSense.